DUBAI: Oman’s expat population dropped to its lowest since July 2015, as the country continued to step up its Omanization plans, which includes an expat visa ban.
As of Feb. 25, 2019, expat numbers were recorded at 2,040,274 totaling 43.7 percent of the country’s population, a 1.4 percent drop from the same period last year, according to the National Center for Statistics and Information.
In 2017, the expat population was at 45.9 percent and 45.1 percent the previous year, as reported by local daily Times of Oman.
The decrease comes as Oman continues its efforts to nationalize its workforce, hiring more Omanis in both private and public sector jobs than foreign nationals.
Indians, Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals, which constitute the majority of expats in Oman, dropped by 4.1 percent, 4.8 percent, and 7.3 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
At the end of January last year, Oman implemented a visa ban, which resulted in the hiring of 64,386 Omanis in private sector companies and establishments and 4,125 more in government agencies.
Gulf countries have been historically dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies; with a 2013 study indicating as much as 71 percent of Oman’s labor force are non-nationals. In Qatar, expatriate workforce was as high as 95 percent while in the UAE it was 94 percent; 83 percent in Kuwait; 64 percent in Bahrain and 49 percent in Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf states have since launched nationalization programs to absorb more of their citizens into the labor force, as well as address high levels of unemployment.